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Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL rumor review: Design, specs, camera, price and release date

Posted September 18, 2019 | Mobile | News


We’re well into 2019, and the fourth generation of Pixel phones is knocking at the door. There’s a little under a month left until Google’s upcoming flagships hit store shelves, but the we’ve been bombarded with enough information to have a pretty good idea of what to expect. 

But since there’s so much information floating around online, it becomes difficult to keep track of everything, so we created this Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL rumor review to keep you in the loop about the latest news and information regarding the Pixel 4.We will be updating it with more juicy info as time goes on. So feel free to bookmark and check it every once in a while to stay informed!

Design – controversial as always

When it comes to smartphone design innovation, there are two types of manufacturers – trend-setters and trend followers. So far, Google falls in the second category, and unfortunately, the company hasn’t always impressed. No one can deny that the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are zippy performers with outstanding cameras, but they haven’t wowed us in terms of looks. The sizable notch and bottom bezel of the Pixel 3 XL seem almost grotesque when compared to competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S9 or the newer S10, OnePlus 6T, or the iPhone XS. While the smaller Pixel 3 is more pleasing to the eye, it looks almost ancient in the age of all-screen phones. 
Unfortunately, the Pixel 4 continues the trend of controversial design choices at Google. The new model has a heavy top bezel, though this time around its existence is somewhat justified by the new motion navigation system that will allow you to control the phone by waving your hands at it. We’ve seen similar technology in the LG G8 ThinQ, though Google’s implementation may be more comprehensive. Whether this will be good enough a reason to keep the top bezel so thick, remains to be seen.

Another controversial design aspect of the Pixel 4 is the square camera bump on the back. It’s similar in style to the iPhone 11 family, and though we’re sure Google will manage to squeeze great performance out of it, it’s been the object of ridicule ever since the first hands-on photos and videos of the Pixel 4 were leaked.
Other than that, we’d say that the back of the Pixel 4 doesn’t look horrendous. In fact, if it’s released in some fancy new color options, we think it could be a good looking phone… from the back, at least. There’s also no physical fingerprint scanner, as Google has made the switch to an in-display solution, which means one less thing on the pristine glass surface.

Camera: More lenses = more fun?

Pixel phones have a reputation for being some of the top devices for mobile photography. Thus, we have no reason to believe that the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will be an exception. The current-gen models were the first to boast dual front-facing cameras, and this time around, we will get two main sensors on the back as well.

Many manufacturers frivolously jumped on the dual-camera bandwagon to seem trendy and appealing, but Google took a different approach. The company stuck with a single main camera and still managed to best most of its competitors. This was done through advanced hardware and software that allowed Pixel models to boast an exceptional image-processing prowess. 

However, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will feature two main cameras, as well as a mysterious third camera, which will most likely serve depth measuring purposes for AR and Portrait Mode. Technical details are slim at this point, but we’re expecting a regular camera, accompanied by an ultra-wide angle snapper. The rest will be left to Google’s ever-evolving (and thus far rather excellent) software processing.

Up front, on the sizable top bezel, a single front-facing camera will take care of selfies. We are expecting a wide angle lens that will work in tandem with Google’s next-gen perspective correction algorithm that can fix distortion in faces when using ultra-wide angle cameras. The Pixel 4 is also rumored to have a new Live HDR mode that will let you preview HDR pictures in real time, without having to wait for them to be processed after the fact.

The “Abracadabra” navigation system

Google’s new Project Soli is a motion-based navigation system for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. It sounds suspiciously similar to what LG did with the Multi ID and hand-tracking algorithms enabled by the 3D-sensing front camera kit on the G8 ThinQ, yet relies on radar waves to detect the motion of the human hand. If this sounds way too complicated, just take a look at the GIF above – it’s as simple as waving at your phone.

Google claims that the radar and the accompanying software can “track sub-millimeter motion at high speeds with great accuracy.” The Soli chip does it by pushing out electromagnetic waves in a broad sweep that get reflected back to the tiny antenna inside. All of this sounds mighty impressive, but the convenience of the system remains to be assessed (and debated). We weren’t all too impressed by LG’s implementation in the G8 ThinQ, but who knows, maybe Google will nail it with the Pixel and we’ll never go back to touching the screen!

Google says that gestures “come more natural than pushing against a piece of glass,” yet so far the technology for their recognition on a phone has been imperfect as it relied on camera sensors. Google is aiming to revolutionize the interaction with our mobile devices by employing the radar-based Motion Sense technology which would include, but not be limited to, natural gestures that can be employed in any orientation of the phone, day or night (pictured above).

Google Pixel 4 & 4 XL specs and new features

As any respectable Android flagship, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL are expected to rock Qualcomm’s latest SoC – the Snapdragon 855. There were rumors that the 855 Plus may be involved, but they were largely debunked, so expect the SD855 to power the new Pixel phones. 

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL last year only had 4GB of RAM, which wasn’t ideal. Not that they ran slow, better specs are always welcome, especially in this day and age.

Rumored Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL specs

Google Assistant on steroids

A quite impressive demo of the future Google Assistant was shown at the opening keynote of Google I/O ’19, showcasing the speediness and immediacy of its responses. The audience was indeed left quite impressed, as the Assistant managed to effortlessly jump from task to task without stopping to think or process for any noticeable amount of time. Still, it’s reasonable to expect that those actions that do not require internet connection will benefit more from this upgrade, as opposed to network-dependent ones. The kicker here? This next-gen Google Assistant will probably be a Google Pixel 4 exclusive for a certain time, or so it seems, but there shouldn’t be any concrete reason why “older” hardware wouldn’t be supporting this next-gen Assistant.

Pixel 4 & 4 XL price and release date expectations

Google has been hiking the prices of its handsets in small increments over the years. The base models of the original Pixel and Pixel XL had an initial MSRP of around $650 and $769, respectively. Their third-gen successors were priced at $799 and $899 upon release. This amounts to an average price increase of around $50 per year. 
It’s logical to assume that Google will add a further $50 to the MSRP of the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. However, we mustn’t forget that the tech giant will also have to take its rivals into consideration. Both Apple and Samsung have included a more affordable handset in their flagship portfolio. The iPhone XR and Samsung Galaxy S10e start at $750 and will get cheaper as time passes. This could put the smaller Pixel at a disadvantage, especially if it costs $850 off the blocks. As such, Google could either stick to its 2018 price points or, as we speculated earlier, introduce a third, cheaper model to compete in that space. 

Now, let’s talk about the announcement and release dates. When will the Pixel 4 and 4 XL come out? It’s very likely that the upcoming handsets will break cover in the first 10 days of October, as this is what happened for the last three years. Google also has a trend of releasing its phones a little less than a month from announcement, so we should expect them to hit the shelves in early November, at the latest. 

Stay tuned for more updates on the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, as more information about the upcoming flagships becomes available!



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